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  • Writer's pictureLilac Mills

Losing it by Emma Rathbone


A hilarious novel that Maggie Shipstead calls "charming... witty and insightful," about a woman who still has her virginity at the age of twenty-six, and the summer she's determined to lose it and find herself.

A candid yet funny take on just what desire and love mean. The Millions

Julia Greenfield has a problem: she's twenty-six years old and she's still a virgin. Sex ought to be easy. People have it all the time! But, without meaning to, she made it through college and into adulthood with her virginity intact. Something's got to change.

To re-route herself from her stalled life, Julia travels to spend the summer with her mysterious aunt Vivienne in North Carolina. It's not long, however, before she unearths a confounding secret her 58 year old aunt is a virgin too. In the unrelenting heat of the southern summer, Julia becomes fixated on puzzling out what could have lead to Viv's appalling condition, all while trying to avoid the same fate.

For readers of Rainbow Rowell and Maria Semple, and filled with offbeat characters and subtle, wry humor, Losing Itis about the primal fear that you just. might. never. meet. anyone. It's about desiring something with the kind of obsessive fervor that almost guarantees you won't get it. It's about the blurry lines between sex and love, and trying to figure out which one you're going for. And it's about the decisions and non-decisions we make that can end up shaping a life."


I'm really not sure what to make of this book. On the one hand I struggled to get into it until I was at least half way through, and on the other, I read the last half with the fascination of a rubber-necker at the scene of an accident.

I didn’t much care for the MC – she is so totally absorbed in, and focused on, her virginity that it takes over her life to the point where nothing else matters. Quite often I found myself wishing she’d just pay someone to do the dirty deed and get it over with.

Aunt Viv was the main redeeming character in this book, though why a woman as private and reserved as her let another person into her home and life (relative or not, the pair hadn’t had any contact for years) was rather surprising, and why she didn’t tell her niece to leave (we find out later in the book how difficult it has been for her to have the MC living with her), I simply don’t know!

Quite literary in tone once the novel got started, I did enjoy the some of the insights, emotions, and the descriptive writing, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as hilarious – I actually found it quite gloomy in places. While the situations themselves could be deemed to be humorous, the writing style isn’t light enough to make them funny.

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